“Primal Link” is the first science fiction space military story in what appears to be a newly formed series. Today, there are two books available in the series with only one in audiobook format. The story feels familiar at times, to those who enjoy the genre, but it includes many unique twists and turns along the way making it seem distinctive. For me, it was the great audiobook’s narration that kept me captivated all the way though the story. The book is dual authored by L. Bowers and Justin Sloan. This is the first work I have listened to by these two authors. The audiobook edition is skillfully narrated by Gary Bennett; who I have also had the pleasure of listening to in his narration of the “Dragon Mage” series. If you are looking for something that has the feel of “Starship Troopers” blended with “Aliens” and some “Stranger Things” thrown in to keep things interesting, you may just find this audiobook worth your credit.
A group of Marines are dropped on an alien planet as part of a search and rescue mission to locate and recover a missing Navy seal team. I had to ask myself, what could go wrong simply with this part of the story by mixing two different services. Needless to say, there is much banter and mocking between the different military services as the story progresses. What had me thinking the story felt like something out of “Starship Troopers” was the use of similar lingo for items such as bugs and dropships; not overly uncommon. There were some paranormal elements woven into the story giving it more of a “Stranger Things” feel. The authors did a decent job of blending these different genres into an interesting tale.
The story had some rather interesting technology with LiFi (light-based) communications, being my favorite. Fully understanding that there would be many obstacles to overcome with communicating over light waves alone. The ships and military weapons felt futuristic without being overly complex or different. I also found the use of the controlling light discs interesting as well. Yet, the more fascinating part of the story was the animal population and their ability to uniquely communicate with their visitors. It made me think of the bond between a hunter class in D&D and their animal familiars. Each person had a special connection and ability to communicate with these native creatures. This bond provided the person with powers that were not entirely human and not super-human either. I think there was a good balance used in the story.
From a writing perspective, I enjoy the many situations and circumstances the characters found themselves. It required thought and not only muscle to succeed at their mission. I felt a level of suspense and action was always present and the overall tone of the book was on the darker side. I would have liked to have had a few periods of downtime just to rest my mind from the action. The authors included a few horror components along with some rather graphic violence that may be difficult for some younger listeners. The characters and writing style felt more like a young adult (YA) tale than I often see in this type of story. I did find the weaving of backstory details welcoming as I wanted to know as much as I could about these people and others involved. For me, the sentence structure was not complex, the communication between characters lacked depth and the characters, though enjoyable, seemed stiff and somewhat flat. I enjoyed the premise, but I wanted to have more color added to the story.
The audiobook’s narration was wonderfully performed by one of my favorite narrators at this point, Gary Bennett. I have been recently listening to many of his works in a science fiction series written by Scott Baron. I have come to expect good quality productions with limited issues. Here the narrator is able to keep the characters interesting and alive by giving them each their own personalities. The pace of his reading is spot on and there were only a few audio patches noticeable while listening. If you are a person who selects his or her audiobook based on a narrator, you cannot go wrong here.
For parents and younger readers, take note that this audiobook includes a large amount of vulgar language. There is also quite a bit of banter along with graphic violence which may not be appropriate for younger listeners. Note, these items are not something that will comes as a surprise to listeners of this genre.
In summary, the book was enjoyable overall. I would have like to have had more depth and complexity in the scenes and the characters. If you are not one who is as concerned with character development, the book still has plenty to keep the reader engaged and there are abundant amounts of action. It felt a bit short and ended with a few unresolved plot lines. However, I was not aware when I listened that there was a second story in this series and the way the book ended it makes sense. The tech was good and the pokes between the Marines and Navy were fun; noting that I was not a member of either. Contemporary Sci-fi story with paranormal aspects is what you can expect when you give it a listen.